TRANSITION: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Something about being human allows us to innately know that circumstances are changing. Our senses are attuned to interpreting subtle as well as conspicuous signs informing us that transition is coming. The seasons are dynamic and all around us are signs that a new time of year is upon us. Football season serves as an announcement that fall is here but that is not the brightest beacon. While the afternoons are still a bit warm, the mornings and the evenings are wonderfully cool, informing us that something new is upon us. But, that is not the primary herald. So how do we really know we are transitioning to Fall? Wal-Mart! They gave us a hint a few weeks ago with the arrival of witches, skeletons and huge boxes of pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns. But the real announcement of the new season came with the arrival of Christmas items! We are now transitioning to cool weather, coffee on the porch, early dusk and the holiday season. For me it is like the classic song, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
As we enter this new season, I have some suggestions to help us all enjoy the days of falling leaves, ghouls and goblins, turkeys and dressing, Christmas lights and smoky chimneys just a little bit more. Here we go:
This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate diversity. God designed the world to constantly change while He remains consistent. The seasonal changes of the planet as well as the cultural changes we experience on an annual basis remind us that we get uncomfortable with the status quo. Celebrate and be grateful for our multifaceted experience as humans. Teach your children to anticipate each season of life and the differences that God has created with gleeful anticipation.
As dark starts coming at six o’clock, make sure you take care of you and your family. It is easy to let exercise slip because it is dark and possibly cold outside. The temptation to eat a bit more, kick back in the easy chair and watch more television is powerful. Perhaps we have a bit of hibernation in us! Consciously, purposefully, continue to exercise and make sure your kids play with you. Have some nice fall routines that add meaning to the season. Go to bed a bit earlier and take advantage of an opportunity to charge your batteries.
Do a bit more self-care this fall. Think about bubble baths and hot cocoa. Avoid the things that put you in dark places and give yourself a lot more grace. Set realistic goals for this season and refuse to push yourself to the point of exhaustion for exercises that bring very little reward for anyone. We are not in control of all aspects of life but we are in control of our actions and decisions.
Try not to let the business of September through December overwhelm you. Stay to the family schedule and even back off a little bit. Learn to say no. This is intended to be a period of joy. Try not to let cultural expectations pressure you into a pace that destroys hope and inhibits jubilation. Listen to good music. Turn off the news – CNN and Fox can really mess up a day. Light some candles with the smells of the fall, it is hard to beat a pumpkin spice or cinnamon roll Yankee Candle. Enjoy and bask in family traditions and if you don’t have enough of those, create them.
Remember that this season is not joyful for everyone. There are those who will go through this season alone or without a very significant other. Send them a card, give them a call or give them a hug. Those folks are redefining themselves in the midst of this transition.
For those of you who have kids in foster care or have adopted a child out of a foster situation, remember that they may have a very different perspective on the holidays. It is this time of year when discipline problems increase exponentially at schools because at-risk children are reminded of what they don’t have during the holidays. Those children need love and support more than ever in this transitional season. Foster and adopted children may be slow to celebrate this season because they feel guilty about not being with their families. Even though some of their feelings are paradoxical and dichotomous, they are real. Sometimes they have a need to hold on to an aggrandized view of their biological parents and that can cause them to stifle the joy of this season. Those children need love and support and a safe place to share their deep and real feelings with someone they can trust who they know will never judge them or shame them. Many children remember seasons in which Santa Claus did not come to their house in spite of the fact that they were good.
Finally, as this season transitions, do all that you do in love. Slow down. Think. Answer slowly. Contemplate before you react. Be a conduit of positivity. Spend time with the people you love. And remember the words of an apostle, “Love never runs out.”
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